Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Local Now: Hyper Local Free Streaming

Following the pandemic surge in paid subscribers for streaming services, media entrepreneur Byron Allen believes the time is right for Local Now, a streaming service that mixes “super-hyper-local” news with premium content — and offers it for free.

“Free is everybody’s favorite price,” Allen, the founder, chairman and CEO of Local Now parent company Allen Media Group, told TheWrap.

The Wrap reports the ad-supported service Local Now launched this week on a wide variety of platforms and devices after more than three years in development. The new service uses proprietary software and artificial intelligence to produce, aggregate, curate and stream local news, weather, sports, traffic, movies, TV shows and documentaries.

Byron Allen
When Allen calls Local Now’s news content “super-hyper-local,” he really means it — weather, sports, traffic and other real-time information is delivered “geo-fenced” to the viewer’s individual zip code, or the one available that is closest to it.

Allen said Local Now is essentially re-creating the experience of traditional network TV viewing and re-inventing it for a streaming generation.

“What we did here is took the way you grew up watching television — you got local news, weather, sports, traffic and premium content for free — we have now put it on the streaming platforms,” Allen said.

Although some streaming services and TV news channels provide 24-hour news coverage, Allen said they often focus on national news. “You want to hear about COVID-19 in your zip code,” he said.

Allen said the hunger for news accessible via Local Now became apparent during the beta phase testing of the service, which overlapped with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. “Our traffic went through the roof; it went straight up like a rocket,” Allen said, adding that 90% of Local Now users were streaming the Capitol invasions on the home TV screens.

Report: Joe Rogan Search Traffic Has Dropped 40%

Is Joe Rogan losing relevance following his exclusive podcast deal with Spotify? Digital Music News says that’s been a difficult question to answer, though Google search traffic data now indicates a serious drop in broader interest since the deal began.

Joe Rogan reportedly received a handsome $100 million for inking his exclusive podcast deal with Spotify. But that deal, which shifted all episodes onto the Spotify platform, may be damaging the podcaster/comedian’s overall influence.

Spotify hasn’t disclosed any listener data on The Joe Rogan Experience, so it’s been impossible to determine if followers have dropped off (or increased) after the shift to the streaming platform. Anecdotally, plenty of Rogan fans publicly swore off the podcast after the switch, especially after episodes stopped appearing on YouTube — and older episodes got scrubbed from the video platform (incidentally, Spotify also deleted 42 Joe Rogan Experience episodes prior to the transition, a move that may have also damaged overall audience interest).

Others simply reported that they weren’t listening to Rogan anymore — but again, it’s been hard to draw any conclusions.

But now, there’s data suggesting that overall interest in Rogan has waned since his exclusive Spotify shift. According to Google Trends search traffic data, searches of ‘Joe Rogan,’ including related searches like ‘Joe Rogan podcast’ or ‘Joe Rogan MMA,’ have dropped roughly 40% since Spotify announced its deal last year.

Spotify announced its Rogan deal in May of 2020, but Rogan didn’t exclusively start recording for the platform until September 1st. By December 1st, episodes were only available on Spotify, and earlier episodes on YouTube and other streaming platforms were also ripped down. After that point, Google search volumes experienced a protracted drop.

In the six months leading up to the show’s December 1st exclusive start, Google Trends data shows an average search index for ‘Joe Rogan’ of 57.9.  After the week of December 1st and during 2021, that index value has dropped to 34.6, which constitutes a 40.2% drop in search volume.

That suggests that Rogan’s episodes aren’t drawing as much attention now that they’re contained within the Spotify platform. But this isn’t a paywall problem: Spotify isn’t limiting The Joe Rogan Experience to Premium subscribers, suggesting other reasons for the lowered impact. One major difference could be YouTube, which is highly viral, more open, and easier to use than Spotify — not to mention tightly integrated into Google Search itself.

Plenty of Rogan followers complained about the shift away from YouTube, and those complaints got noticed. Sensing a major functionality compromise, Rogan demanded that Spotify integrate video into its platform to promote viral sharing of his shows. That request was granted, though Spotify’s video experience is still clunky at best.

Day 2: March PPMs for DC, Boston, Miami +More

Nielsen on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 released the second batch of March 2021 PPM data for the following markets:

  7  Washington DC

10  Boston

11  Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood

12  Seattle-Tacoma

13  Detroit

14  Phoenix

15  Minneapolis-St. Paul

16  San Diego

17  Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater

18  Denver-Boulder

22  Baltimore

24  St. Louis

👉Click Here To View Topline Numbers For Subscribing Nielsen Stations. 

Wake-Up Call: Guilty Guilty Guilty

Daily Mail website screenshot 4/21/21

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all counts yesterday in the death of George Floyd last May -- second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The jury returned with a verdict late in the afternoon, after about 10 hours of deliberations from when they started a day earlier. Chauvin immediately had his bail revoked and was taken away with his hands cuffed behind his back. He could face up to 40 years in prison when he's sentenced in two months.

At a news conference after the verdict with Floyd's family, his brother, Philonise Floyd, said, "Today, we are able to breathe again," a reference to how his brother repeatedly said he couldn't breathe as he was held down for more than nine minutes with Chauvin's knee on his neck. President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris both made remarks after the verdict, welcoming the decision, but saying that more needs to be done. Biden said, "We can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this will ever happen again."

In August, the three other former Minneapolis officers who were with Chauvin when Floyd died will go on trial on charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.

➤POLICE IN COLUMBUS, OHIO, KILL TEENAGE GIRL WHO SWUNG KNIFE AT TWO OTHERS: Police in Columbus, Ohio, shot and killed a teenage girl who swung a knife at two other people yesterday afternoon, just minutes before the verdict was read in George Floyd's trial in Minnesota. 

Police officials showed bodycam footage last night -- and unusually quick release of it -- that showed an officer responding to a 911 call from someone saying they were being threatened. The officer gets out of his car and walks toward a group of people in a driveway when the girl, who was Black, starts swinging a knife at another girl, who falls backward. As the officer shouts to get down, the girl with the knife then charges at another girl pinned against a car. 

The officer fires four shots, fatally hitting the girl. The age of the girl, Ma’Khia Bryant, is unclear, with AP saying one family member said she was 15 and another said she was 16.

➤ONE KILLED, TWO INJURED IN SHOOTING AT NEW YORK SUPERMARKET: One person was killed and two others injured at a supermarket in West Hempstead, New York, on Long Island late yesterday morning when an employee is alleged to have opened fire on three workers. A 49-year-old store manager was killed, and two other workers were injured. The suspect, 31-year-old Gabriel DeWitt Wilson, was taken into custody several hours later at an apartment building about two miles away after he fled. The shooting happened inside offices at the Stop & Shop supermarket above the shopping floor. Wilson, who corralled shopping carts at the supermarket, has a criminal record and had been taken into custody previously for a mental health evaluation.

➤RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER NAVALNY'S DOCTORS BLOCKED FROM SEEING HIM IN PRISON HOSPITAL: Several doctors for Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny were blocked from seeing him in a prison hospital yesterday. Navalny's health has reportedly dangerously deteriorated during his three-week hunger strike, and he was transferred to the prison hospital on Sunday. One of his attorneys saw him, and said, "He’s very thin, he must have lost about 20 kilograms (44 pounds). He is very weak and appears to have difficulty speaking and sitting." There has been international concern and criticism over Navalny's condition, with U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price urging Russia to allow him, quote, "access to necessary and independent medical care immediately."

➤WORK STRESS IS CHANGING YOUR PERSONALITY:  If you’re concerned your job might be changing you as a person, you could be right. University of Illinois researchers looked at how chronic workplace stress can fundamentally change people’s personalities in both the short and long term. They assessed this through the Big Five model of personality traits: conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness, and extroversion. Researcher Jarvis Smallfield explains, “Among these, the most notable that is prone to change is neuroticism […] Neuroticism is related to issues such as employee burnout and clinical depression and may downwardly spiral.” In other words, if you’re stressed at work you may become more neurotic, which makes you more sensitive to stress. Smallfield adds that the data shows the personality changes can occur in as little as four weeks, and says that not all workplace stressors have such a damaging effect. A positive stressor, for example, would be when you “believe you can overcome a stressor and overcoming that stressor will get you something you want” such as meeting a difficult deadline that will help you earn a promotion if you hit it. You can help protect yourself from the bad stress by viewing problems as surmountable obstacles that are rewarding to overcome. Smallfield says, “Work is naturally stressful, and there’s really no way to avoid that, nor would we want to. We need those challenges to thrive. The problem comes in when the stresses stop being healthy challenges and become overwhelming, out of our control, or without purpose.”

➤WHERE ARE STIR-CRAZY AMERICANS GOING OVER MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND? Americans who are stir-crazy after more than a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions are looking to go away on vacation over Memorial Day weekend, the first major holiday weekend since vaccinations have really made headway, with it just announced this past weekend that half of all U.S. adults have gotten at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot. The Washington Post reports that the travel industry is expecting it to be a busy three-day weekend, and that people seem to be favoring more open spaces and natural environments over urban trips, as well as more off-the-beaten-path locations. The Post named the most popular destinations Americans are booking for Memorial Day travel:
  • Las Vegas - Priceline found its the most popular city for Memorial Day weekend hotel bookings.
  • Mexico - Popular throughout the pandemic since it doesn't have any entry restrictions.
  • Florida - Draws are the beaches and limited Covid restrictions.
  • Hawaii - Increasingly popular since reopening to tourists last year.
  • National Parks - Interest has exploded in 2021.
➤STUDY..PEOPLE WHO SPEAK IN A LOWER PITCH MORE LIKELY TO BE PROMISCUOUS: It turns out your voice says more about you than you might think. An international team of researchers analyzed voice recordings of more than 2,000 people and looked at their self-reported personality traits. They found lower voice pitch was linked with higher levels of sociosexuality, or openness to engaging in casual sex. People with deep voices were also found to be more extroverted and have greater “dominance,” meaning they have high levels of influence in social situations. Lead study author Julia Stern adds, “One possible explanation for our findings is that higher levels of testosterone are linked to lower voices and more unrestricted sociosexual orientation in both women and men.”

➤STUDY: NEARLY ONE-THIRD OF YOUNG GAY PEOPLE HAVE ATTEMPTED SUICIDE: A new study from researchers at UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute found that 30 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual participants ages 18 to 25 said they'd attempted suicide at least once, compared to 24 percent of those ages 34 to 41 and 21 percent of those 52 to 59. The study also found these young people are experiencing higher levels of victimization, psychological distress and internalized homophobia than gay people in older generations. Young gay people are more likely to have attempted suicide than in previous generations, and lead author Ilan H. Meyer said among the factors are that gay people are coming out at younger ages than ever. He explained, "That can be a positive, of course. But it can also backfire and expose you to a lot of harassment and victimization. You might not be prepared for the consequences."

➤NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP RAISES RISK OF DEMENTIA: Middle-aged people who only sleep six hours or less have an increased risk of developing dementia than those who regularly get seven hours, according to a new study. The French researchers found that persistently getting six hours of sleep or less among adults aged 50, 60, and 70 was linked to a 30 percent greater dementia risk, even after accounting for other factors. The study authors noted that evidence suggests sleep supports cognitive performance and clears toxic beta-amyloid protein plaques from the brain.

➤SCIENTISTS REVEAL HOW AEROSOL DROPLETS FROM FLUSHING HANG IN THE AIR FOR 20 SECONDS:  Go ahead and put the toilet seat down before you flush. Florida Atlantic University researchers found that tens of thousands of particles are spewed into the air by a toilet flush, and they can rise several feet above the ground, to mouth level. The droplets were found to float around five feet in the air for more than 20 seconds, meaning we’re at risk of breathing them in. The experts say the droplets can act as vectors for diseases, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, which has been found alive in human feces. Study co-author Dr. Stella Batalama says, “Aerosolized droplets play a central role in the transmission of various infectious diseases including COVID-19, and this latest research by our team of scientists provides additional evidence to support the risk of infection transmission in confined and poorly ventilated spaces.”

➤SPORTS WORLD REACTS TO CHAUVIN VERDICT: Reactions came from the sports world yesterday to former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin being found guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, with players, coaches, teams and leagues all weighing in. Several players tweeted the words "Accountability" or "Justice," and teams and leagues in particular wrote about continuing to work for things like justice and equality. Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash, for one, said, "It's bittersweet. Obviously, George Floyd lost his life as many others have unjustly, and we can't forget that people are losing their lives. On the other hand, it is a small gesture of justice and possibly hope for the future in that perhaps all the social justice movements, the NBA, the WNBA with the community at large are really making an impact."

🏀HARDEN HAS 'SETBACK' IN HAMSTRING INJURY RECOVERY: The Brooklyn Nets said Tuesday that James Harden has had what they called a "setback" in his rehab from a hamstring injury and is now out indefinitely. Nets head coach Steve Nash said, "Back to square one." The team said Harden had the setback during a rehab session Monday, and underwent an MRI yesterday that confirmed it. Harden has missed six games due to the hamstring strain, last playing on April 5th.

🏈STEELERS HEAD COACH TOMLIN GETS THREE-YEAR EXTENSION: The Pittsburgh Steelers signed head coach Mike Tomlin to a three-year contract extension yesterday that goes through the 2024 season. Tomlin has been with the Steelers for 14 years, winning one Super Bowl in 2009, and going to another in 2011. The 49-year-old is 21st in NFL history in career wins, with a 145-78-1 record.

🏌PGA TOUR STARTS $40 MILLION BONUS PLAN FOR PLAYERS: The PGA Tour has started a $40 million bonus plan that will give money to the top 10 players who boost publicity and engagement. ESPN reports that idea of the Player Impact Program is to reward players who drive engagement with sponsors and fans. The Tour said which players get payouts will be based on their "Impact Score," and that score will come from things including their popularity in a Google search, the Nielsen Brand Exposure rating, their Q rating, the MVP index rating and their Meltwater Mentions, which measures the frequency that a player generates coverage across various media platforms.

⚾MLB INFIELDER NEIL WALKER RETIRES: Infielder Neil Walker retired Tuesday after 12 MLB seasons, ending his career at age 35 and tweeting, "Officially retired." Walker, who was with the Pittsburgh Pirates for more than half of his career, played in 18 games for the Philadelphia Phillies this year. Walker hit .267 with 149 homers and 609 RBIs during his career for Pittsburgh, the New York Mets, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Miami and the New York Yankees.

Apple Unveils New iPad Pros, Colorful iMacs, AirTags +More

Apple Inc. unveiled new products Tuesday including a subscription podcast service that deepens its competition with Spotify Technology SA as well as upgrades to its iPad and iMac hardware lines.

The Wall Street Journal reports the announcements, during Apple’s first product event of the year, also included new wireless tags that enable iPhone users to track gadgets, competing with the similar product from Tile Inc. That company and Spotify have been among the most prominent corporate critics of the tech giant, claiming it uses its strength to compete unfairly, which Apple denies.

The rollout featured a further expansion of the company’s in-house-designed processor chips to the iMac desktop computer. The chip change was part of a full iMac redesign—the first significant redesign of Apple’s popular desktop since 2012. Apple also said it is bringing its new chips to the high-end iPad Pro, which comes with a brighter screen and speedy fifth-generation, or 5G, connectivity.

The latest iPad Pro will be available to order April 30. The device starts at $799, while the larger version with its brighter screen will begin at $1,099. The iMac, which will be offered in a variety of colors, begins at $1,299. Apple’s new M1 chip will allow the desktop to be much slimmer, according to the company.

The development of a paid subscription option within Apple’s podcast app comes with a revamp of that app.

It underscores a core strategy that Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has been championing since well before the pandemic, one focused on building out the company’s digital services to fuel growth and keep consumers even more closely tied with Apple’s ecosystem. The tech giant’s services division generated almost $16 billion in sales in the quarter that ended in December, an almost 25% increase from the same period the previous year.

Netflix: Streamer Stumbles

Netflix Inc. said subscriber growth for the first quarter was weaker than expected, a potential warning sign for the company as consumers in many countries start to emerge from pandemic-related lockdowns and as streaming competition increases.

The Wall Street Journal reports the company on Tuesday said it added another four million subscribers on a net basis globally between January and March, fewer than its forecast of six million.

“It’s just a little wobbly right now,” Netflix Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Reed Hastings said on the company’s video call to discuss results.

The subscriber gain in the first quarter was far below the 15.8 million increase from a year earlier, when the spread of the coronavirus was first intensifying and people were homebound and bingeing on content.

Many consumers who get vaccinated are venturing out of their homes more and shifting spending despite the lingering threat posed by coronavirus. Airlines are looking for a resurgence in summer travel. Movie theaters and other venues have reopened in New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere. Restaurants and hotels, both hard hit by pandemic-related closures and restrictions, have stepped up hiring.

The company’s lower-than-expected growth comes as it faces its greatest competitive threats. Walt Disney Co.’s Disney+, which launched just about a year and a half ago, already has 100 million subscribers world-wide. Other rivals including AT&T Inc.’s HBO Max, Apple Inc.’s Apple TV+ and Inc.’s Prime Video are spending heavily for content, driving up programming costs.

Netflix said it expects subscriber growth to pick up in the second half of the year, when some of its more successful shows return with fresh episodes, including “The Witcher” and “You.” Netflix projected it will spend more than $17 billion on content this year.

In recent weeks, Netflix has also made moves to shore up its content through acquisitions and licensing deals. It struck a five-year deal valued at well over $1 billion with Sony Pictures Entertainment for streaming rights to the studio’s theatrical releases starting in 2022. It also spent $440 million for the rights to make two sequels to the film “Knives Out” starring Daniel Craig.

As part of the Sony pact, the two companies will also create original content for the streaming service.

TV Ratings: ACM Awards Joins the Slump Club

The Academy of County Music honors drew a record-low audience, joining other awards shows also finding dwindling viewer interest, The Associated Press reports citing Nielsen data.

Ceremony ratings generally have slid in recent years and the trend has continued during the pandemic, with the recent Grammys and Golden Globes among those nosediving.  Next up to be tested: the Academy Awards, airing Sunday on ABC (8 p.m. EDT).

The ACM Awards drew just under 6.3 million viewers last Sunday, compared to the 6.6 million that watched in 2020, according to Nielsen figures released Tuesday.

An episode of “60 Minutes,” with a segment on the far-right Oath Keepers militia group, was the week’s most-watched TV program. Members of the group are being investigated in connection with the U.S. Capitol insurrection, with one having pled guilty to federal charges.

The news magazine and the ACM Awards — which ranked among last week’s top five programs despite the ceremony’s slump — were both on CBS and helped lead the network to a weekly ratings victory.

CBS averaged 4.45 million viewers, followed by ABC with 3.6 million. NBC had 3.1 million, Fox had 2 million, Univision had 1.4 million, Telemundo had 1.07 million, ION had 1.05 million and the CW had 710,000.

Top 20 Prime-Time Shows (Total Viewers):

1. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 8.48 million.

2. “Young Sheldon,” CBS, 7.46 million.

3. “Blue Bloods,” CBS, 6.83 million.

4. ACM Awards, CBS, 6.28 million.

5. “The Voice,” NBC, 5.83 million.

6. “Magnum P.I.,” CBS, 5.58 million.

7. “NCIS,” CBS, 5.56 million.

8. “United States of Al,” CBS, 5.45 million.

9. “American Idol” (Sunday), ABC, 5.44 million.

10. “American Idol” (Monday), ABC, 5.39 million.

11. “Mom,” CBS, 5.35 million.

12. “The Masked Singer,” Fox, 5.17 million.

13. “Bull,” CBS, 5.12 million.

14. “Station 19,” ABC, 5.1 million.

15. “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 4.98 million.

16. “The Neighborhood,” CBS, 4.95 million.

17. “This Is Us,” NBC, 4.81 million.

18. “Bob Hearts Abishola,” CBS, 4.74 million.

19. “Law & Order: SVU,” NBC, 4.73 million.

20. “Law & Order: Organized Crime,” NBC, 4.41 million.

ABC’s “World News Tonight” topped the evening news ratings contest, averaging 8.3 million viewers last week. NBC’s “Nightly News” had 6.9 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 5.2 million.

Fox News Channel led the cable networks, averaging 2.23 million viewers in prime time. MSNBC had 1.48 million, HGTV had 1.36 million, CNN had 1.05 million and TBS had 947,000.

Meanwhile, The Wrap reports Fox News beat out cable competitors CNN and MSNBC in coverage of Prince Philip’s funeral Saturday. Anchor Martha MacCallum helmed the three-hour coverage block.

From 9 a.m. ET to 12 p.m. ET, Fox News’ special coverage of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral brought in 2.3 million total viewers, on average, according to early Nielsen Media Research ratings data. Of those, 365,000 were in the advertiser-coveted age demographic of 25 to 54.

By comparison, CNN took in 1.8 million total average viewers at that time, with 359,000 in the key demo. MSNBC was in third place by both measures, nabbing a total of 1.2 million viewers on average, of whom 159,000 were in the demo.

The Daily Mail Sues Google Over Search Results

The Daily Mail’s owner filed an antitrust suit against Alphabet Inc.’s Google on Tuesday, alleging the tech giant manipulates search results and advertising auctions in ways that harm online publishers.

The Wall Street Journal reports the suit, filed in Manhattan federal court, alleges that Google punishes publishers in search rankings if they don’t sell enough advertising space through Google’s marketplace.

The Daily Mail’s concerns stem in part from its assessment that its coverage of the U.K.’s royal family in 2021 has been played down in Google’s search results, a spokesman for the publisher said.

In a statement, a Google spokeswoman denied the allegations in the suit. “The Daily Mail’s claims are completely inaccurate. The use of our ad tech tools has no bearing on how a publisher’s website ranks in Google Search. More generally, we compete in a crowded and competitive ad tech space where publishers have and exercise multiple options,” the statement said.

Publishing executives complain in private about Google’s dominance of search and advertising, but few go public with their grievances. In January, the parent company of West Virginia’s Charleston Gazette-Mail filed an antitrust suit against Google and Facebook Inc. Several other small publishers on Monday filed suits against those two tech companies, citing a deal between them code-named “Jedi Blue.”

Separately, Google is facing antitrust suits brought by the U.S. Justice Department and attorneys general in several states. The company has denied abusing its market power and has said the ad technology market is competitive.

The U.K.-based Daily Mail, known for celebrity and pop-culture news, has built one of the world’s most-read websites, with 75 million unique monthly visitors in the U.S., according to the suit, which seeks unspecified damages. The suit also asks Google to discontinue its alleged misconduct and offer transparency into its news-search algorithm.

Publishers have a complicated relationship with Google. The tech company’s search engine is a major source of web traffic for many sites, and most of the industry uses Google software to sell ad space in advertising exchanges. But Google also competes with publishers for online ad dollars and supplies tools to ad buyers. Google had a nearly 29% share of the U.S. digital ad market in 2020, according to research firm eMarketer.

Tribune Publishing Sets May 21 Shareholder Vote

Tribune Publishing set a May 21 date for shareholders to vote on its deal to sell the Chicago-based newspaper chain to hedge fund Alden Global Capital for $633 million.

The Chicago Tribune reports Alden, Tribune Publishing’s largest shareholder with a 31.6% stake, reached an agreement in February to buy the rest of the company at $17.25 per share and take it private. The proposed merger will require approval from two-thirds of Tribune Publishing’s other shareholders.

On Monday, Tribune Publishing said it ended discussions with a group headed by Maryland hotel executive Stewart Bainum after it was notified that Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss had pulled out of a fully financed nonbinding offer of $680 million for the company. A special committee of the Tribune Publishing board determined that the proposed $18.50 per share bid by the Bainum-Wyss entity, known as Newslight, no longer could be reasonably expected to lead to a “superior proposal” to Alden’s offer.

The Tribune Publishing board members and executive officers intend to vote all of their shares in favor of the Alden merger, with the exception of CEO Terry Jimenez, who said he plans to vote against the proposal, the company said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Tuesday.

Shareholders of record as of April 15 will get one vote for each share. Tribune Publishing will report the results within four days of the shareholder meeting, according to the SEC filing

The Alden deal’s success hinges on securing the votes of California biotech billionaire and Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong, who owns 23.7% of Tribune Publishing’s 36.9 million outstanding shares. Soon-Shiong, who built his initial stake in Tribune Publishing at $15 per share in 2016, owns about 8.7 million shares of the company.

If approved, Tribune Publishing said it expects the merger to be completed by the end of June.

NYTimes Balks On Name Changes For Transgender Journalists

New York Times journalists want the company to bring in “Ally McBeal”-style gender neutral bathrooms and to retroactively revise the bylines of transgender journalists who have changed their names.

The NY Post reports those are the issues topping the list of demand by the Gray Lady’s unionized editorial staffers as negotiations kick off for a new contract, Media Ink has learned. The previous union contract expired at the end of March.

So far, management is digging in its heels on the bathroom question as well as on revising bylines on past stories by transgender journalists.

The union also claims that the The Times is resisting its requests to set any hard-and-fast diversity guidelines on future hires, despite acknowledging earlier this year in a report from Deputy Managing Editor Carolyn Ryan that it has fallen woefully short in its efforts to diversify.

According to a memo circulated to members of the union by the Guild’s Bill Baker following an April 14 negotiating session, management “pushed back on our proposal to retroactively correct the bylines of transgender journalists who change their names.”

Edison Research Signs WNYC Studios For Podcast Tracker

WNYC Studios has become the most recent subscriber to The Podcast Consumer Tracker from Edison Research. The Podcast Consumer Tracker is the industry’s only comprehensive measure of the total audience for podcasting and the reach of every major producer. 

“We are so happy to welcome WNYC Studios to our family of subscribers,” noted Edison Research SVP Tom Webster. “We have served New York Public Radio in a variety of capacities for nearly 15 years, and we are honored to be a part of their podcast strategy.”  

The Podcast Consumer Tracker from Edison Research is a first-of-its-kind research product designed to serve the ongoing needs of leading podcast networks, agencies, and consultancies, and is the source of the Top 50 Most Listened To U.S. Podcasts of 2020. Current subscribers include Stitcher/Midroll, NPR, Wondery, ESPN, and many other producers and podcast platforms.  

Since 2019, The Podcast Consumer Tracker has offered a bespoke service to the growing podcast industry and provides members with reliable and regular data on the podcast audience, what they are listening to, and the relative reach and awareness of the leading podcast networks. Each quarterly report tracks demographics, content preferences, listening behaviors, sales targeting information, and other custom measures.  

Edison Research has served the podcast industry for over 16 years through continual coverage of the medium in The Infinite Dial® and Share of Ear® research.

April 21 Radio History

➦In 1940... The radio quiz program, “Take It or Leave It” aired on CBS. Contestants were offered a top prize of $64 by Bob Hawk. Losers left as there were no lovely parting gifts or consolation prizes.

"Take It or Leave It" was a very popular radio quiz show in America during its run. The title was derived from the fact that each time a contestant answers a question correctly, he or she will be asked to either "Take" his/her winnings and walk away, or "Leave" it and proceed with the next question.

The show ran for 10 years on CBS (1940-1947) and NBC (1947-1950), and was hosted by Bob Hawk (1940-1941), Phil Baker (1941-1947), Garry Moore (1947-1949), Eddie Cantor (1949-1950), and Jack Paar (1950). It became the precursor of another American game show called "The $64,000 Question" on NBC Radio.

Dick Clark
➦In 1960…Dick Clark testified before a congressional committee investigating payola.

In 1950, there were approximately 250 disc jockeys in the U.S. By 1957, the number had grown to over 5,000. The increase was partially due to the sheer amount of new records being produced, both by major and indie labels. As the name suggests, a disc jockey was responsible for sorting through all these releases (naturally, the sorting was influenced by payola). These on-air personalities had so much clout with younger listeners, Time magazine called them the “poo-bahs of musical fashion and pillars of U.S. low- and middle-brow culture.”

Aware of their rising status, jocks established flat rate deals with labels and record distributors. A typical deal for a mid-level DJ was $50 a week, per record, to ensure a minimum amount of spins. More influential jocks commanded percentages of grosses for local concerts, lavish trips, free records by the boxful (some even opened their own record stores), plus all the time-honored swag. As Cleveland DJ Joe Finan later described the decade, “It was a blur of booze, broads and bribes.”

Clark admitted that over a period of 28 months he'd had a financial interest in 27 percent of the records he played on his "American Bandstand" TV show. Clark was ordered to sell off some of his conflicting interests, but had his name cleared -- unlike disc jockey Alan Freed, who refused to admit that payola was an illegal or immoral practice.

Alan Freed and Dick Clark both played important parts in the rise of rock ’n’ roll (Freed embodied the incendiary spirit of the music more than Clark, refusing to play white cover versions of black songs, such as Pat Boone’s “Tutti Frutti”). And though they both denied ever accepting payola, it’s almost impossible to imagine two young, popular jocks not succumbing to a little temptation. Guilty or not, it was Freed who ended up taking the fall for DJs everywhere.

Why did the committee single him out? Freed was abrasive. He consorted with black R&B musicians. He jive talked, smoked constantly and looked like an insomniac. Clark was squeaky clean, Brylcreemed, handsome and polite. At least on the surface. Once the grilling started, Freed’s friends and allies in broadcasting quickly deserted him. He refused—“on principle”—to sign an affidavit saying that he’d never accepted payola. WABC fired him, and he was charged with 26 counts of commercial bribery. Freed escaped with fines and a suspended jail sentence. He died five years later, broke and virtually forgotten.

Previous to the trial, Dick Clark had wisely divested himself of all incriminating connections (he had part ownership in seven indie labels, six publishers, three record distributors and two talent agencies). He got a slap on the wrist by Committee chairman Oren Harris, who called him “a fine young man.” As Clark told Rolling Stone in 1989, the lesson he learned from the payola trial was: “Protect your ass at all times.” Surprisingly candid words from the eternal teenager.

After Freed went down in 1960, Congress amended the Federal Communications Act to outlaw “under-the-table payments and require broadcasters to disclose if airplay for a song has been purchased.” Payola became a misdemeanor, with a penalty of up to $10,000 in fines and one year in prison.

➦In 1982...The TV sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati” aired for the final time after four seasons and 90 episodes.

WKRP in Cincinnati featured the misadventures of the staff of a struggling fictional radio station in Cincinnati, Ohio. The show was created by Hugh Wilson and was based upon his experiences working in advertising sales at Top 40 radio station WQXI in Atlanta. Many of the characters and even some of the stories are based on people and events at WQXI.

The ensemble cast consists of Gary Sandy (as Andy Travis), Howard Hesseman (Johnny Fever), Gordon Jump (Arthur Carlson), Loni Anderson (Jennifer Marlowe), Tim Reid (Venus Flytrap), Jan Smithers (Bailey Quarters), Richard Sanders (Les Nessman) and Frank Bonner (Herb Tarlek).

The series received 10 Emmy Award nominations, including three for Outstanding Comedy Series.

WKRP premiered September 18, 1978, on the CBS television network, and aired for four seasons and 90 episodes through April 21, 1982. Starting in the middle of the second season, CBS repeatedly moved the show around its schedule, contributing to lower ratings and its eventual cancellation.

The station's new program director, Andy Travis, tries to turn around struggling radio station WKRP by switching its format from dated easy listening music to rock and roll, despite the well-meaning efforts of the mostly incompetent staff: bumbling station manager Arthur Carlson, greasy sales manager Herb Tarlek, and clueless news director Les Nessman. To help bolster ratings, Travis hires a new disc jockey, New Orleans native Gordon Sims (who takes on the on-air persona of Venus Flytrap); and allows spaced-out former major market DJ Dr. Johnny Fever, already doing mornings in the easy listening format as John Caravella, to be himself. Rounding out the cast are super receptionist Jennifer Marlowe and enthusiastic junior employee Bailey Quarters. Lurking in the background and making an occasional appearance is ruthless business tycoon Lillian Carlson, the station's owner and the mother of Arthur Carlson.

➦In host Peter Lind Hayes died at age 82. He and his wife Mary Healey appeared together in latter day radio & early TV, and costarred in the 1960 sitcom Peter Loves Mary.  Together they introduced the commercial jingle ‘See the USA in Your Chevrolet’ in 1950, two years before Dinah Shore made it her own.  He was also the "designated substitute" for Arthur Godfrey on both his CBS-TV and radio programs.

➦In 1998...Giant Records distributed Brian Wilson‘s album “Imagination” to four U-S radio stations via the internet. It was the first time the internet was used to distribute a song to radio.

➦In 2016...Singer-songwriter, actor, multi-instrumentalist, philanthropist, dancer and record producer known as Prince, died from an accidental fentanyl overdose at his Minnesota home.  He was aged 57.

➦In 2016...Blues-rock artist Lonnie Mack died of natural causes at age 74.

  • Nicole Sullivan is 51
    Actor Elaine May is 89. 
  • Actor Charles Grodin is 86. 
  • Singer Iggy Pop is 74. 
  • Actor Patti LuPone is 72. 
  • Actor Tony Danza is 70. 
  • Actor James Morrison (“24”) is 67. 
  • Actor Andie MacDowell is 63. 
  • Singer Robert Smith of The Cure is 62. 
  • Guitarist Michael Timmins of Cowboy Junkies is 62. 
  • Actor-director John Cameron Mitchell (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch”) is 58. 
  • Rapper Michael Franti of Spearhead is 55. 
  • Actor Leslie Silva (“In the Dark,” ″Providence”) is 53. 
  • Actor Toby Stephens (“Die Another Day”) is 52. 
  • Singer Glen Hansard is 51. 
  • Comedian Rob Riggle is 51. 
  • Comedian Nicole Sullivan (“King of Queens”) is 51. 
  • Guitarist David Brenner of Theory of a Deadman is 43. 
  • Actor James McAvoy (“The Last King of Scotland,” ″The Chronicles of Narnia”) is 42. 
  • Actor Terrence J (“Think Like a Man”) is 39. 
  • Actor Christoph Sanders (“Last Man Standing”) is 33. 
  • Actor Frank Dillane (“Fear the Walking Dead”) is 30. 
  • Singer Sydney Sierota of Echosmith is 24.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Streaming Wars: Consumer Fatigue Is On the Horizon

The average U-S household has nine paid subscriptions spread across videos, music, and gaming.

Digital Music News reports a new report by accounting and consulting firm Deloitte looks at the subscription habits of Americans. The average subscriber has four paid video streaming services, two paid music services, and three paid gaming services. For Gen Z members, gaming and then music rank as their favorite entertainment choices.

Despite the rising number of subscriptions among US households, there’s growing fatigue. Those surveyed are expressing frustration at fragmentation in the entertainment market. 52% say they’ve found it difficult to access content divided across so many subscriptions. 53% say they are frustrated to need multiple subscriptions in the first place.

Consumers are also price-conscious, so jacking up prices causes frustration. Price increases were also listed as the biggest reason for consumers to cancel a paid subscription service – among video, gaming, and music subscriptions.

They’re also showing greater tolerance for ad-supported content in the face of so many subscription options. 40% of US consumers would prefer a video service with no ads vs. 60% who would accept ads for a reduction in the monthly fee.

This subscription fatigue report highlights all the factors that consumers consider for new services.

82% of US consumers have at least one paid video streaming service. The average subscriber has around four paid video streaming services. When it comes to music, it is a top-three favorite among all generations.

Around 60% of US consumers surveyed have a music streaming service. The same amount has used a free, ad-supported music service like Pandora or Spotify. Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X are more likely to have a gaming subscription of some type.

Surprisingly, Gen Z embraces gaming (26%) and music (14%) over video content (10%). Gen Z prefers to play games and listen to music over watching TV and movies as their favorite form of entertainment. 62% of Gen Z and 72% of Millennials say they would rather see personalized ads over generic ones. However, only 40% of the same group said they would be willing to receive targeted advertising.

It’s an interesting look at how paid subscription services have dominated all aspects of our entertainment life. Much of the younger generation no longer even uses traditional cable. But subscription fatigue is a very real thing, especially as prices continue to rise. The online survey was conducted among 2,009 US households in February 2021.

Day 1: March PPMs Start Rolling..NYC, LA, Chicago, More...

 Nielsen on Monday, April 19, 2021 released the first batch of March 2021 PPM data for the following markets:

  1  New York

  2  Los Angeles

  3  Chicago

  4  San Francisco

  5  Dallas-Ft. Worth

  6  Houston-Galveston

  8  Atlanta

  9  Philadelphia

20  Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island NY)

26  Riverside-San Bernardino CA

37  San Jose CA

43  Middlesex-Somerset-Union NJ

Click Here To View Topline Numbers for Subscribing Nielsen Stations.

Wake-Up Call: A City Braces As Jury Deliberates

Star-Tribune website screenshot

The jury began deliberations Monday in former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's murder and manslaughter trial in the death of George Floyd after hearing closing arguments from the prosecution and the defense for most of the day. The jurors, who are being sequestered during deliberations, ended for the night after about four hours. They will have to decide charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

During his presentation, prosecutor Steve Schleicher referred to the video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes and played parts of it, telling jurors, "Use your common sense. Believe your eyes. What you saw, you saw." He said said Floyd was killed by Chauvin constricting his breathing, dismissing defense arguments, including that he died due to fentanyl and methamphetamine found in his system, and that police were distracted by hostile bystanders who were urging Chauvin to remove his knee and provide medical assistance to Floyd. Fellow prosecutor Jerry Blackwell similarly dismissed the defense argument that Floyd died because he had an enlarged heart, saying, "The truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin’s heart was too small."

Defense attorney Eric Nelson argued that Chauvin did what any reasonable police officer would have done in that situation of a large man struggling with three officers, stating, "A reasonable police officer understands the intensity of the struggle." Nelson showed jurors pictures of pills that were found in Floyd's vehicle and remnants of pills found in the police car, saying that it, quote, "defies medical science and it defies common sense and reason" for the prosecution to say that Floyd's medical issues and the drugs in his system didn't play a role in his death.

Judge Criticizes Rep. Maxine Waters: After closing arguments, and with jurors out of the courtroom, Judge Peter Cahill criticized comments that had been made a day earlier about the case by Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, while dismissing a defense request for a mistrial based on her comments. While taking part in protests over the recent police killing of another Black man in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, Waters said that if Chauvin isn't convicted of murder, quote, "we've got to get more confrontational." Cahill called those remarks "abhorrent" and "disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch," and while he didn't grant the mistrial request that argued the comments had tainted the jury, he told the defense, "Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned."

➤MEDICAL EXAMINER: CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER SICKNICK DIED OF NATURAL CAUSES AFTER CAPITOL ATTACK: The Washington, D.C., medical examiner's office ruled Monday that Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after confronting rioters during the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, had a stroke and died of natural causes. Investigators had at first believed that the 42-year-old officer had been hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, and later thought he may have breathed in bear spray used by rioters that may have contributed to his death. Medical examiner Francisco Diaz did, however, tell The Washington Post that, quote, "all that transpired" on January 6th "played a role in his condition." Still, the natural cause of death ruling means it wasn't caused by an injury, making it unlikely any homicide charges will be brought in Sicknick's death. U.S. Capitol Police said the ruling didn’t change the fact that Sicknick had died in the line of duty, quote, "courageously defending Congress and the Capitol."

➤NO 'RED FLAG' HEARING HELD FOR FEDEX SHOOTER THAT COULD HAVE PREVENTED GUN PURCHASE: An Indiana prosecutor said Monday that a "red flag" hearing wasn't held in 2020 for the 19-year-old man who killed eight people at a Fedex facility in Indianapolis last week even after his mother called police to say he might commit "suicide by cop." Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears said authorities didn't try to hold a "red flag" hearing that could have prevented Brandon Scott Hole from buying a gun, because they didn't have enough time under the law's limits to definitively show that he had a propensity for suicidal thoughts. The law requires a "good-faith effort" to hold a hearing within 14 days. Police had taken a shotgun from Hole in March 2020 after his mother's call. Mears said yesterday, "The risk is, if we move forward with that [red flag] process and lose, we have to give that firearm back to that person. That’s not something we were willing to do." Hole, who bought the two assault-style rifles he used in the Fedex shooting legally, also killed himself.

➤EX-DEPUTY WANTED IN KILLING OF THREE IN TEXAS CAUGHT: A 41-year-old former sheriff's deputy who was wanted in the killing of three people, including his wife and 17-year-old daughter in Austin, Texas, was caught early Monday after a 20-hour manhunt. Stephen Broderick was apprehended after two 911 calls were made about a man walking along a road in an Austin suburb. Broderick is alleged to have killed his wife, Amanda Broderick, daughter Alyssa Broderick, and 18-year-old Willie Simmons III on Sunday. He resigned from the Travis County sheriff's office after he was arrested last June and charged with sexually assaulting a child. Court records indicate the victim was his daughter Alyssa, who was then 16. Broderick had been released on bond and had to wear a GPS monitor. But a judge allowed him to remove it in October, with the defense saying he'd worn it for 142 days with no substantial violations.

Walter Mondale 1928-2021

➤FORMER VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE DEAD AT 93: Former Vice President Walter Mondale, whose served under President Jimmy Carter during his one term from 1977 to 1981, died on Monday (April 19th). He was 93. In a statement last night, Carter called Mondale "the best vice president in our country’s history," saying, "Fritz Mondale provided us all with a model for public service and private behavior." Mondale was the first vice president to have an office in the White House instead of in a building across the street, and he advised Carter on domestic and foreign affairs.

President Biden said of the liberal icon, "It was Walter Mondale who defined the vice presidency as a full partnership, and helped provide a model for my service." The Minnesota Democrat, who also served as a U.S. senator and ambassador to Japan, won the Democratic presidential nomination himself in 1984. He made history by choosing a woman, Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, as his vice presidential running mate, but suffered a huge loss to President Ronald Reagan as he ran for re-election, winning only his home state and the District of Columbia in a 525-13 electoral vote loss.

➤COAST GUARD SUSPENDS SEARCH FOR EIGHT BOAT CREW MEMBERS IN GULF OF MEXICO: The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search last night for eight boat crew members in the Gulf of Mexico, six days after their lift boat capsized off Louisiana. Authorities don't expect to find any more survivors. The Seacor Power lift boat, which has three legs that can be lowered to the sea floor to lift it out of the water as a temporary platform, capsized last Tuesday in a storm. Six people were rescued alive, and five bodies were found. The boat was headed to an oil platform at the mouth of the Mississippi River when it capsized.

➤APPLE TO ALLOW PARLER BACK TO APP STORE:  Apple is going to allow Parler back into the App Store after the social media app that's popular with conservatives, as well as with some members of the far-right, improved its content moderation policies. That's according to a letter from Apple executive Timothy Powderly tweeted by Republican Rep. Ken Buck Monday, which the congressman called a "huge win for free speech." Apple pulled Parler from the App Store after the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, because, according to Powderly, the app was allowing posts that, quote, "encouraged violence, denigrated various ethnic groups, races and religions, glorified Nazism, and called for violence against specific people." He said in the letter, which was sent in response to questions about the banning from Buck and Republican Senator Mike Lee, that Parler's return was okayed after what he called "substantial conversations" about its moderation policies.

👀SINGLE MEN REVEAL WHAT THEY FIND MOST ATTRACTIVE IN A FEMALE PARTNER: The old saying says that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but dating coach Louanne Ward, who is based in Australia, decided to ask single males what they find most attractive in a potential partner. The vast majority said long-term attraction is less about physical appearance and more about character, specifically the values a woman holds and how she treats others. Others argued that looks do matter as a romantic relationship cannot begin without some level of physical attraction. The top 5 personality traits the men mentioned were: 1) honesty, 2) confidence, 3) playfulness, 4) kindness/gratefulness, 5) loyalty, while the top 5 physical traits they named were: 1) eyes, 2) smile, 3) butt, 4) breasts, 5) legs.

➤NASA HELICOPTER FLIES ABOVE MARS: NASA's experimental helicopter flew up above the surface of Mars yesterday, becoming the first powered flight by an aircraft on another plant. Marking the historic moment, the four-pound copter named Ingenuity carried a small piece of wing fabric from the Wright brothers plane that first flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903. Ingenuity was just in the air for a brief 39 seconds, hovering 10 feet up. The helicopter arrived on Mars in February on board the rover Perseverance. Because Mars' atmosphere is just one percent of the density of Earth's, Ingenuity's twin rotor blades need to spin fives times faster than on Earth.

➤STATE DEPT. TO ADVISE NOT TRAVELING TO 80 PERCENT OF COUNTRIES DUE TO COVID: The State Department said Monday that it will begin updating its travel advisories this week, increasing the number of countries it's advising against traveling to due to Covid-19 by a large amount to about 80 percent of nations from the current 16 percent. The State Department noted the change doesn't, quote, "imply a reassessment of the current health situation in a given country," but reflected a change to rely more heavily on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It says the advisories also consider what it called "logistical factors," like the availability of in-country Covid testing and travel restrictions for U.S. citizens.

➤SUPREME COURT JUSTICE AMY CONEY BARRETT GETS BOOK DEAL: The Supreme Court's newest member, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who just joined the high court last fall, has gotten a book deal, with Politico reporting she got a $2 million advance. The book is being put out by Penguin Random House's conservative Sentinel imprint. Politico further said the book will be about how judges should avoid letting their decisions be shaped by personal feelings.

➤REPUBLICAN REP. STIVERS OF OHIO RESIGNING FROM CONGRESS: Republican Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio announced on Twitter Monday that he's resigning from Congress next month. The 56-year-old Stivers, who was first elected in 2010, said he's leaving to become the president and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. With his departure, the House balance will be 218 Democrats and 211 Republicans, down from 212, with five vacancies. A date for a special election to fill his seat hasn't yet been set.

🏀CURRY SCORES 49 POINTS, INCLUDING 10 THREE-POINTERS IN WARRIORS' WIN: Golden State's Stephen Curry scored 49 points last night, including 10 three-point shots, in the Warriors' 107-96 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Curry has now had 11 straight games with 30 or more points, besting Kobe Bryant for the most by any player 33 or older. Curry, who turned 33 last month, also had his fifth 40-point game in April, topping Bryant and Michael Jordan for most 40-point games in a month by a player age 33 or older.

🏒SHARKS' MARLEAU BREAKS HOWE'S RECORD FOR MOST NHL GAMES PLAYED: The San Jose Sharks' Patrick Marleau broke the legendary Gordie Howe's record last night for the most games played in NHL history, with his 1,768th career game. Most of the 41-year-old's games have been with the Sharks, 1,596 of them, and he also had 164 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs and eight games with the Pittsburgh Penguins. When he made his NHL debut in October 1997, he was just 18 years and 16 days old, the youngest for any player in the league since Lee Wharton in 1945.
The Sharks ended up losing last night's game to the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2.

🏈QB ALEX SMITH ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT: Quarterback Alex Smith announced his retirement yesterday after 16 NFL seasons, sharing the news on Instagram. The 36-year-old wrote, "I want to say thank you for believing in me, and thank you for helping me believe in myself -- and in the impossible. Because even though I’ve got plenty of snaps left in me, after 16 years of giving this game everything I’ve got, I can’t wait to see what else is possible." Smith made an amazing return last season with Washington, two years after suffering a gruesome broken leg in a November 2018 game, after which he had to have 17 surgeries. He went 5-1 as a starter last season. Washington released Smith in March, and though he initially said he intended to keep playing, he remained unsigned more than a month into free agency.

🏀ROCKETS SAY BROWN ATTACKED IN MIAMI: The Houston Rockets said Monday that guard Sterling Brown had been attacked the night before after the team arrived in Miami, suffering cuts to his face, from which he'll make a full recovery. The Rockets said of the attackers, "He had no prior knowledge of or interaction with the assailants." No other information was released. Head coach Stephen Silas said, "Heart-wrenching. Rips your heart out. It’s one of your guys, someone on your team that you care about, someone that you’re with every day."

🏈WARRANT ISSUED FOR SEAHAWKS ALDON SMITH FOR BATTERY: An arrest warrant was issued Monday in Louisiana for Seattle Seahawks defensive end Aldon Smith for alleged second-degree battery. St. Bernard Parish District Attorney Perry Nicosia said Smith allegedly choked the victim unconscious during a confrontation Saturday that began inside a coffee shop in Chalmette. The 31-year-old Smith signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks just two days before the incident, on April 15th. The Seahawks said they are "gathering more information." Smith had returned with the Dallas Cowboys last season after missing more than four years due to an indefinite suspension by the NFL for multiple off-field incidents and violations of the league's substance abuse policy.

➤BASKETBALL HALF OF FAMER SCOTTIE PIPPEN'S SON DIES AT 33: Antron Pippen, the oldest child of Basketball Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, has died at age 33. Scottie Pippen shared the sad news on social media Monday, saying Antron had died on Sunday, but didn't give a cause of death. He wrote, in part, "I'm heartbroken to share that yesterday, I said goodbye to my firstborn son Antron. . . . A kind heart and beautiful soul gone way too soon. I love you, son, rest easy until we meet again." Antron, the oldest of Pippen's seven children, was the only child from his first marriage.  

Facebook To Launch New Audio Features

Facebook Inc. is moving more aggressively into audio products, trying to compete with rivals such as Twitter Inc. and popular upstart Clubhouse.

Bloomberg reports the social network is building a series of new audio-focused products, including virtual rooms where users can host live discussions, and a feature called “soundbites” that lets users post short audio snippets to their feed like they would a photo or video, according to Fidji Simo, head of the Menlo Park, California-based company’s main service.

Facebook will also create a podcasting feature so users can download and listen to podcasts directly from the main app, which will give the company a chance to compete with existing players like Apple Inc. Recode reported earlier on Facebook’s plans.

Audio has become an important format with many people stuck at home due to the pandemic. Clubhouse, which lets users host live audio discussions, has been a big hit in Silicon Valley, and just raised money at a $4 billion valuation after Twitter tried to buy the startup for around the same price, Bloomberg News reported. “Clubhouse has done something phenomenal,” Simo said. “I’ve been working at Facebook for ten years so I know how hard it is to create a new social format.”

Twitter is also pushing aggressively into audio. It has a Clubhouse competitor, called Twitter Spaces, which exists within its app, and launched an equivalent to Facebook’s soundbites product called voice tweets last summer. Microsoft Corp.’s LinkedIn and Slack Technologies Inc. are also working on audio rooms competitors.

Simo said Facebook is trying to put its own spin on these products. On Clubhouse and Twitter, for example, audio rooms are ephemeral and disappear after a room is closed. On Facebook, users can save their room discussions and let people download them as a podcast, she said. Facebook’s artificial intelligence technology will eventually recommend the most popular parts of a live discussion to be shared as soundbites, she added.

Many of these products are still weeks if not months away. Facebook said it hopes to launch its live rooms product by summer.

NYC Radio: WFAN Jumps Ahead WEPN During PM Drive

WFAN 101.9 FM / 660 AM’s Craig Carton and Evan Roberts edged WEPN ESPN 98.7 FM’s "The Michael Kay Show" in the programs’ first full ratings book going head-to-head, according to Newsday citing Nielsen Audio data released Monday.

According to Newsday's Neil Best, from 3 to 7 p.m., when the afternoon drive time shows overlapped, Carton and Roberts finished third overall in the New York market among men ages 25-54, averaging 5.3% of those listening in that demographic.

Kay finished fourth, averaging 4.8% for the book, which ran from Jan. 7 through March 31.

The result seemed to validate WFAN’s decision to bring back Carton after a three-year absence, including a year in prison after he was convicted on federal fraud charges.

Kay beat Mike Francesa for the first time in the fall of 2019, then grew his lead in 2020 against Roberts and Joe Benigno. Carton returned in November of 2020 and first went past Kay in the ratings in January. Their margin of victory over ESPN increased in each of the first three months of this year.

Both stations traditionally judge themselves by the men ages 25-54 demographic favored by advertisers, but when all listeners age 6 and up are included, Roberts and Carton beat Kay’s show by a wider margin, 2.9 to 1.8.

For the entirety of Carton & Roberts’ 2 to 7 p.m. show in the spring, they finished second overall in the market with 5.9% of the listening audience in the key demo.

In the morning, WFAN’s Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti finished first overall with 7.6% of men 25-54, far ahead of ESPN’s 17th place and 2.6% from 6 to 10 a.m., during which ESPN airs two hours of local programming and two national.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., WFAN’s Maggie Gray and Marc Malusis had a strong book, finishing second overall at 5.8, while ESPN programming in that time slot finished 15th at 2.6.

L-A Radio: John Peake Promoted To SVP/Programing For iHM

iHeartMedia/Los Angeles announced Monday that John Peake has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Programming, in addition to maintaining his position as Program Director for KBIG 104.3 MYFM.

Prior to joining iHeartMedia in 2009 as the Show Director for the “Johnjay & Rich Show” in Phoenix, Peake had an extensive radio career in San Francisco, Houston, Tucson, Denver and Birmingham. In 2011, he was the Operations Manager for iHeartMedia Seattle, and in 2013, he moved to Southern California to spend the next four years as the Regional Senior Vice President for iHeartMedia’s Riverside and San Diego stations and the Program Director for Star 94.1. In 2017, John made the leap to Los Angeles, where he has served for the last four years as the Program Director for iHeartMedia’s highly successful station 104.3 MYFM and the legendary KOST 103.5.

John Peake
“John is one of the most successful programmers there is, with experience that spans multiple formats and markets,” said Tom Poleman, Chief Programming Officer for iHeartMedia. “We’ve been programming peers for over 30 years and I’m excited to collaborate with him in Los Angeles. He’s the perfect person to lead our incredible lineup of stations and personalities.”

“I couldn’t ask for a better programming partner in operating iHeartMedia’s Los Angeles market than John,” said Kevin LeGrett, President of iHeartMedia Los Angeles. “Not only is he a sound and thoughtful programmer with great instincts, as can be seen from the ratings success of the stations under his supervision, but he also has a very motivating and relatable management style with a comprehensive understanding of data, digital, social and events. I am very much looking forward to working with John in this new role, continuing to advance the performance of these iconic brands.”

“I am thrilled for this opportunity be part of the iHeartMedia LA leadership team and some of the biggest audio brands in the world,” said Peake. “The chance to work at a higher level with the imaginative, innovative and charismatic group of talent and programmers that lead the industry in the audio space is so exciting. Our LA brands are well positioned for growth across multiple platforms in the future, and I am beyond honored to be a part of that. My thanks and gratitude to Greg Ashlock, Tom Poleman, Brad Hardin, Kevin LeGrett and Andrew Jeffries.”

Insights: Auto Dealers Need Radio To Reach Ready2Buy Consumers

As the economy recovers and consumer confidence is restored, auto dealers have the opportunity to ramp up advertising efforts to sell cars. 

This week’s Westwood One blog looks at the current state of the auto industry and the importance of advertising, and then outlines an AM/FM radio attribution report released by LeadsRx that shows how AM/FM radio campaigns generate significant auto dealer website traffic.

According to reports from The Conference Board, Apple, Ipsos, and The New York Times, the economy is returning to normal with increased consumer confidence, commuting, and optimism.
  • Nielsen: Heavy AM/FM radio listeners are +18% more likely than heavy TV viewers to make a major auto purchase: Nielsen reports one-third of heavy AM/FM radio listeners intend to make an auto purchase in the next year, +18% greater than heavy TV viewers.
  • Nielsen Scarborough: 40% of U.S. new car buyers cannot be reached with TV: Based on media usage, 40% of U.S. new car buyers are impossible to reach on TV. While 60% of auto intenders are heavy TV viewers and can be reached by linear TV, two out of five auto purchasers cannot be sufficiently reached by TV.
  • One out of four persons 25-54 cannot be reached on linear TV: Nielsen’s just-released Total Audience Report reveals linear television’s weekly reach among persons 25-54 has dropped from 85% in Q3 2018 to only 77% in Q3 2020.
  • The risk of cutting advertising is loss of mental availability for a store or brand: Kantar, one of the leaders in marketing effectiveness measurement, studied what happens six months after cutting ads: awareness starts to fade and fewer consumers cite your brand as the place they would buy. Top-of-mind awareness erodes, as does purchase intention.
  • Proving impact: AM/FM radio campaigns generate significant auto dealer website traffic: On behalf of iHeartMedia, LeadsRx conducted the world’s largest study of media impact on auto website traffic. LeadsRx found that, on average, AM/FM radio is responsible for a +17% lift in automotive dealer web traffic. Most of this traffic comes from new consumers. 59% of web visits attributable to AM/FM radio advertising originate from new shoppers.